While bringing me half a pastrami sandwich and a cup of soup at the deli on Thursday, my waitress, April, reminded me that the world is supposed to end on Saturday. April told me she was glad to be packing it in. All her troubles would be over. But when I looked up at her after putting down my newspaper, I saw she had a mischievous smile on her face.
Nevertheless, I wondered why I’d forgotten about the coming Rapture tomorrow. It was just last week that I drove past one of those “Judgment Day” billboards in one of Arizona’s forgettably ugly desert towns.
So perhaps, after my own near-end experience, there’s a reason I gave the billboard oddity only a passing glance. And after all, out in the desert, it’s a given that there’s a pretty high “NQR Factor” for such pronouncements. A buddy of mine used to refer to the strange folks hiding out in the middle of a sandy nowhere as afflicted with the factor of being “not quite right.”
But as I’ve since discovered, the billboard is one of a couple thousand put up by 89-year old Christian “Family Radio” broadcaster and preacher Harold Camping and his followers.
These days or at least until tomorrow, Camping is all over the media, e.g, “The world will end Saturday — or not” and “Oakland’s Family Radio Worldwide Says the Rapture Is Saturday.” But like Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour, though the end is supposed to come on a day certain, i.e., May 21, 2011, Camping’s camp also says the actual end of the world won’t be for another 5 months on October 21, 2011.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a Vegas oddsmaker with the Over-Under on the coming Rapture. Maybe it’s because Camping previously miscalculated doomsday back in 1994 or because talk about Final Judgment doesn’t play well in Sin City.
Still, I should’ve remembered the billboard. I have appointments next week. I bought green bananas on Wednesday and am golfing this weekend. I’m also supposed to return a library book by May 24th.
And 3 days ago, I’d even enjoyably read Craig Wilson’s take in USA Today on the imminent end at the “Final Word: A toast to Doomsday.” So how does one forget perdition that quickly?
Maybe, it’s because as a student of history, I know that throughout time, there’s a long record of ‘boy-calling-wolf‘ prophetic doom. Indeed, in the 19th century U.S., there was October 22, 1844 and the “Great Disappointment” of the so-called “Millerites.” And of course, the list of apocalyptic prophesies pre-dates that event and continues into the new century.
I still remember, for example, Marshall Applewhite and the “Heaven’s Gate” UFO cult suicide at Rancho Santa Fe, California. And also see, for example, “Apocalypse! | FRONTLINE | PBS,” or “A Brief History of the Apocalypse: The Future” or “Failed end of the world predictions from 30 to 1920 CE.“
Now I know this “Judgment Day” is not to be confused with that other “Judgment Day “ that also used to run in May, courtesy of pay-per-view and the World Wrestling Federation.
But whether incurable optimist or hopeless cynic, I’ll make my own prediction for Saturday. I’m not changing any plans. I’m keeping my tee time this weekend and I’m not sending my office rent check in early. I’m also not canceling appointments or notifying any clients that their invoices are canceled or that I won’t be completing their work. I’m also not going to take any parting shots at anyone. Ooops, forget the last one. Too late for that.
Photo Credits: Wrestler by Mshake3 under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported and billboard photo by gsloan’s photostream under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic and Harold Camping photo by ChristReturns2011 under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.